Some fans have called for UCLA to fire third-year head coach Steve Alford (center) due to the Bruins’ disappointing 2015-16 season, but Pac-12 Networks analyst Don MacLean says it’s too early for that conversation. (David Crane/Staff)
The UCLA men’s basketball team heads into the Pac-12 Tournament mired in one of the most disappointing season in program history, with its 15-16 record making even an NIT invitation very questionable. Perhaps further dimming the Bruins’ chances at a late-season run is their next opponent.
Steve Alford’s 10th-seeded squad will tip off at the MGM Grand Garden Arena at 6 p.m. tomorrow against USC — a team that has comfortably won the last two games in the crosstown rivalry. Pac-12 Networks analyst Don MacLean answered some questions about the Bruins, including what he thinks of Alford’s job security.
Q: What are your impressions of UCLA’s first-round matchup against USC, especially given the results of their past two meetings?
A: “Overall, you wonder where UCLA’s head is at. They haven’t looked good coming down the home stretch here. They’re a No. 10 seed. They’re not going to get into the NCAA Tournament. But what I’m looking for is for them to kind of hit the reset button, and see if they want to try and make a run in this Pac-12 Tournament. So to that degree, I don’t think it really matters who their first-round opponent is. To me, it’s more about their spirit and their will, and if they want to finish out this season the right way. They have underachieved. I think they know that. They have the talent to be better than they are.”
Q: A couple of weeks ago, you said you wouldn’t be surprised if UCLA won the Pac-12 Tournament. Do you still think that? Continue reading
Point guard Bryce Alford and his UCLA teammates are currently tied for eighth in the Pac-12 standings. The Bruins were a preseason pick to finish fifth, a prediction that Alford had said felt too low. (Hans Gutknecht/Staff)
Pac-12 Networks analyst Don MacLean has a frank, albeit unsurprising assessment of his alma mater.
“UCLA is the most disappointing team in the Pac-12, in a league that has been terrific this year top to bottom,” said MacLean, the Bruins’ all-time leading scorer. “I expected more out of UCLA based on their level of talent. And that’s why I say if they make a run to the final or even win the Pac-12 Tournament I wouldn’t be surprised at all.”
With two weeks left on the schedule, the Bruins (15-12, 6-8) are tied for eighth in the conference standings with Oregon State and Stanford, and currently hold the head-to-head tiebreaker for tournament seeding.
Perhaps some small solace can be found in the fact that, in the last seven years, the regular-season Pac-12 champion has also won the Pac-12 Tournament just once. During that stretch, however, the tournament champion entered the field as no lower than a No. 6 seed.
» Barring a miracle late run, Steve Alford’s third season has been a disappointment.
» Former four-star recruit Jonah Bolden is finally showing flashes of offensive potential.
» UCLA center Tony Parker returned to the starting lineup in Saturday’s 77-53 win over Colorado.
Kevon Looney is among the 19 players who accepted invites to Thursday’s NBA draft. How long will his green-room wait last?
Once considered a near-certain lottery pick, many mock drafts have since dropped the former UCLA forward to borderline top-20 status.
Pac-12 Networks analyst Don MacLean, a former Bruin, isn’t among the detractors.
“Ten years from now, I think Kevon Looney may be the best player from this year’s draft coming out of the Pac-12,” MacLean said. “I really like him. You just don’t see guys with the length, the rebounding, the instincts. … The way he was used at UCLA, you didn’t see the entire package.”
MacLean’s projection is optimistic, but not all that outlandish. After all, the only other Pac-12 product with lottery potential is Arizona’s Stanley Johnson — a strong defender who likely won’t turn into an elite scorer.
But many questions surround Looney’s draft stock as well, some of them not helped by the Bruins’ game plan. Continue reading
Q: Was Tony Parker hurt in the second half? Some are saying that is why he didn’t play more after a coming out party in the first half.
A: Ben Howland said Parker got tired as USC was making a run. Also said the officials got on Parker for getting “chippy,” but mostly attributed the limited minutes to fatigue. He also basically said that Parker would be relied on to produce similarly against Arizona State. Travis Wear’s official status is day to day, but I doubt he’ll be ready by Wednesday.
Q: How much of this “can’t get the recruit in” is a PR stunt to tow the “Harvard of the West” fantasy? Continue reading